Though a 30-year veteran of the restaurant business, Mark Khayat, owner of , always has enjoyed music and larger promotions. So, after building an addition on the front of the restaurant on 481 Peterson Road, Khayat began booking events in the newly added space.
“That was our first addition 10 years ago, and we started doing a lot of music with the local bands running the circuit in the Chicago area,” Khayat said. “We had a great response to it, but you always want to reach for that next level.”
The next level, Khayat explains, was building a room that would accommodate small acts, national acts, corporate parties, and fundraisers. The addition, now called the Fuel Room, built in the rear of the building, opened in 2008.
All About the Acoustics
“We built it all around acoustics,” Khayat said. “We made sure that the sound could be as good as it could be. And then we’ve got a lighting rig that’s built for somewhere three times as big. Same with air conditioning. If it needed 10 tons of air conditioning, we had 40.”
He says the attention to detail has been acknowledged by the music acts he has booked in the Fuel Room.
“When you have Bret Michaels, or Vince Neil, or Buckcherry, or somebody say, ‘I was really reluctant to not play in the city, but we can’t wait to come back again,’ that’s how we continue to get shows,” Khayat said. “It’s really hard to get them, and we’re accomplishing it, so that’s really good.”
Aside from Buckcherry and the members of Poison and Motley Crue, has featured The Band Perry, Gavin Rossdale of Bush, Ice Cube, Bobby Brown, Chevelle, Candlebox, and Down featuring Phil Anselmo of Pantera.
“I think every band that I’ve ever wanted to see myself, that I’ve always had on my hit list, we’ve accomplished and we’re going to keep working in that direction," Khayat said. “We want to get it to where it has to be a stop for a lot of players that enjoy a good room.”
Planning for Expansion
Khayat says that his plans for the include another addition that would bring the venue’s capacity from 700 to 1,200. He also says he wants to broaden the music genre, booking country bands and theater shows.
“I think a lot of people like going to see theater. They like going to see music, but combining the food aspect, where you can see a show, eat dinner, hang out in a lounge and a patio. There’s a lot of versatility that we do here,” Khayat said.
He also believes that seeing an act at the is less expensive than buying tickets for a concert in the city.
“I think the whole music world notices a difference in expendable income,” he said. “A show out by us could cost half of what a show in Chicago could cost. Plus, you also don't pay the $30 for parking, and you don't pay $14 for a drink, and you don't pay $60 for a dinner. It adds up really quickly. Being out here in the suburbs and seeing a show for $20, I think that’s really good.”
Khayat calls his establishment “well-rounded,” and enjoys doing large promotions, including the yearly motorcycle rally, the Ironhorse Roundup.
“I think there’s some people who have never been here before and they see some of the things on the sign and they think it’s a little risky,” Khayat said. “But the truth is, we have older clientele, we have younger clientele, we have families. It’s kind of a really weird mixture, and it’s nice to be able to mix that whole thing together and get the right result.”